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Archive of June, 2005

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[Permalink 2005-06-30] Movie Review: Batman Begins

June 30, 2005:

One review I saw online referred to Batman Begins as an action movie under glass. I can see where the guy was coming from. There was a lot of action, but for some reason I wasn't able to really get into it. Don't get me wrong, it was a good flick. It just seemed a little flat.

Since this movie covers the creation of Batman there's a lot more talking and a lot less bad guys running rampant across the city. The backstory was done well, and helped to explain why the Waynes were alone in the alley after having seen the show. (It also explains why Bruce/Batman feels so guilty about it all those years later.)

While he was done fairly well, I'm not quite sure Ra's Al Ghul should have been in the beginning of the story. Al Ghul's fascination with Batman was as an intellectual near-equal, and the young Batman in the movie just wasn't up to snuff yet -- he wasn't "mindful of [his] surroundings" and in complete control. Maybe in the next film, depending on how much time elapses.

The Scarecrow, on the other hand, made a good starting villian for a fledgeling Batman. Not many henchmen, and a fairly simple plot. And for a hero who hadn't quite conquered his fears yet, a "fear gas" makes a formidible-enough weapon. The conversion from the Batman cartoon series was good -- the Scarecrow was close enough to the cartoon while still being real, and the actor played a nutball rather well. (I heard he'd auditioned to play Batman. I think he was a little too pretty to be the though guy Batman has to be.)

I wasn't too sure when I saw Michael Caine as Alfred, but he did it well -- I don't think I've ever seen Alfred act like a human instead of a snobby quasi-automaton. Again, he may become more of a "typical" butler in the next film(s) but in this movie Bruce Wayne needed a father figure, not a yes-man. I like that version of Alfred.

My final praise for the actors goes to Gary Oldman and Liam Neeson. Oldman played a Jim Gordon who actually looked like a frustrated, grizzled old cop. And Neeson did a wonderful job playing his role as Bruce Wayne's instructor in the art of deception. If you listen more closely than I did, and you're familar with the Batman cartoon, you'll figure out a plot "twist" that I thought was a hole up until the end of the movie.

So all in all, good film, except for the aforementioned flatness. And I think that will be fixed in the sequels when they don't need to cut around to Bruce's past while playing out the present. Maybe go to a matinee to avoid paying nine dollars, but go see it.

[Permalink 2005-06-28] Curing My Own Case of Cranial-Rectal Inversion

June 28, 2005:

Just 48 short hours after paying $12 to wash my car I got a notice from the apartment complex stuck in my door. All cars must be moved from the car-wash area for cleaning, etc., next week.

I didn't know we had a car-wash area here. I kinda figured we didn't, since we each have to pay for our own water. And it's not even that far from the apartment; it's just in a part of the complex I never go to because there's no need. Oh well, now I know for next time.

[Permalink 2005-06-27] Weekend Update

June 27, 2005:

Well, I had a pleasantly boring week last week. Does wonders for my stress levels, but makes for a boring blog.

Saturday I washed my car for the first time in several months. Turns out the thing's still blue after all.

Sunday I saw Batman Begins. Overall I liked it (review to follow) but I'm wondering why Christian Bale felt the need to move his mouth like he was in a badly-dubbed kung-fu movie while he was in the bat suit. After that I went riding.

Usually I go riding with a group, but Sunday I went solo. It turns out that stopping every once in a while to wait for people lets you pedal farther -- I barely got to where the Viva Vienna festival was a few weeks ago, and had to take a rather long break on the ride back. Slept like a rock Sunday night though.

And since this is turning into a mini-update type of entry, I'll just say that the chiropracty is still going three times a week. I'm doing traction now, which is basically trying to force my body to correct its spinal alignment in conjunction with the adjustments the doctors do. I've had two sessions so far, and it seems to be OK.

Boss is out all this week, on vacation with his family. He said he'd call in on Monday to see how things are going. Knowing him, the call will probably come in before 9:00 -- he's one of those morning-person types. It's a shame; he's otherwise a normal person.

Well, that's it for now. Three-day weekend coming up. Sounds good to me.

Update, 9:06 AM: Just got off the phone with the boss. I was almost right.

[Permalink 2005-06-23] Those Algorithms Could Stand Some Tweaking

June 23, 2005:

Note, 11:38 AM: Dang. Thought I remembered to activate this one. Guess not.

Google almost got the ads on this e-mail right, but nooooot quite:
[In a very Browns-friendly email, they offered Steelers jerseys.]

Now, I can think of a few things some of us would do with that Steelers jersey, but in a fine, upstanding, family-oriented blog like this I don't think I could pass those thoughts along...

[Permalink 2005-06-21] At Least the Day's Over

June 21, 2005:

Managed to commit a pretty major gaffe on the client-relations front today. One I really ought to have known better than to do. That's what I get for clearing my e-mail logjam at 8:00 in the morning. I wound up being about 10 minutes late for the chiropractor appointment thanks to a bunch of traffic that randomly showed up on 28, and the doctor was running even farther behind than I was.

Not a giant pile of suck, I know -- though I would like that e-mail back -- but coupled with the fact that I've been in a shitty mood pretty much since Wednesday of last week and took 45 minutes to perform a 5-minute task on Sunday afternoon, I'm starting to wonder if I should maybe take a karate or tae kwon doe class just so I can hit things and not hurt myself or get arrested.

[Permalink 2005-06-20] Suggestions?

June 20, 2005:

I finally picked up a passport for myself. (Well, I sent in the application about five weeks ago, and just got it last week.) Now I just need to have someplace to go, and the money to get there. And knowing why it costs $80 for an ID attached to a notepad would be nice, too.

Anyway, I'm thinking the first place I'd want to go would be someplace English-speaking, like the UK or Australia. From there I'll branch out to places where I can mangle the local language enough to squeak out a barely-intelligible "do you speak English?"

Luckily for me, almost all Western European countries refer to the nectar of the gods as "beer." Nice to see we can all agree on the important things.

[Permalink 2005-06-17] Guess I Should Pay More Attention

June 17, 2005:

Apparently there was a primary election here on Tuesday. On the one hand, I probably should have voted. On the other hand, I'm not sure if I've lived here long enough to vote just yet and I have no idea what the candidates' platforms were, or even what their names were. So in this case it's probably best that I skipped the vote. I just need to remember to start paying attention come the fall.

Edit, 10:29 PM: Dave also mentioned over IM that I may not have been able to vote in the primary due to (lack of) party affiliation. Since I didn't recall being asked which party I wanted to register in when I got my license -- in PA they ask as part of the motor-voter program -- I did some digging.

Turns out Virginia's an open-primary state. I would have had to have picked a party verbally when I got to the polling place is all. Not a thought I'm terribly fond of, but it's to prevent people from voting in both primaries -- you have to pick one and stick with it.

Unfortunately Google is more useful in answering this question than is. I haven't been able to find anything on the state government's site to corroborate that blog posting I linked to. But it does fit in with my not being asked for a party affiliation at the DMV.

[Permalink 2005-06-16] The Bitch Is My Back

June 16, 2005:

Well, as promised here are the images of my back.

First off, my not-curved neck as seen from the side. I've marked everything I could see on the image:

And now the neck from the front.

And finally my lower spine. This one actually made the chiropractor say "I can't believe you're not in pain."

I've been going three times a week to get adjusted. In a little while they're going to start traction, which should help move things into place better. In the meantime, I spend most of the evening after an appointment feeling like my back needs to pop.

[Permalink 2005-06-14] Adding Columns to a SQL Server Table for Complete and Utter Retards

June 14, 2005:

Let's say you have a SQL Server database table with a couple million records in it. Now let's say for some reason you want to add a column to it. Maybe the client wanted to ask another insipid question of their users, maybe management decreed that more tracking be done, maybe something got a new bell and/or whistle. Doesn't matter why, you've just got to add that column.

If you're like me, your first inclination would be to simply fire up Enterprise Manager, select Design Table, and add the column. For added bonus points you might slide that new column into a more logical place than the tail-end of the table.

And if you do that, like me, you'll be going in to work at 9:00 at night to fix the table you just fouled up, because when EM tries to add that column in the middle of the table it's going to lock out writing any data. That lock also appears to survive rebooting the machine.

The fix in this case is exactly the same as what you (and I) should have done in the first place. Here's how you keep yourself from driving back to the office at 8:30 PM:

  1. In EM, right-click the table you want to add to, and choose "All tasks" -> "Create Script".
  2. In the second tab (I can't remember its name right now) make sure only "Generate CREATE statement" is checked. Save the SQL file to someplace convenient.
  3. Open Query Analyzer and paste the CREATE statement into the window. Add your new column wherever you feel it appropriate. Don't run it yet.
  4. Back in EM, rename the table. Adding "_old" to the end usually works well.
  5. Now run the script in Query Analyzer. Your total downtime should have been about 2 seconds.
  6. Move triggers (if you have them) from old table to new by doing the right-click, edit, delete, execute dance.
  7. Close QA and go back to EM.
  8. Make sure that any automatic processes are placing data in the table.
  9. Run a DTS export from YourTable_old to YourTable. Check the transform, but it should just say <ignore> next to the new column.
  10. Let the import run. For a couple million records you'll have plenty of time for coffee.
  11. Verify that the data imported to the new table properly.

If you do that to start with you'll save yourself a lot of trouble. If you do that second you'll at least look like you know how to fix a major cock-up. I think option A is the better one though.

[Permalink 2005-06-13] I Hate Nature

June 13, 2005:

Or more to the point, I hate the bird that sits in the bushes downstairs and chirps incessantly starting at about 5:15 in the morning. The little bastard sounds like he has a bullhorn and sits right on my windowsill.

Is it wrong that I lay in bed at 5:30 AM and contemplate pruning those hedges with a 12-gauge?

[Permalink 2005-06-10] Department of Corrections

June 10, 2005:

Well, apparently my back truly is fouled up. My cervical vertebrae (the ones in the neck) don't form a nice curved line in the side view like they're supposed to; they're straight, putting my head too far out over my body. Whether that's the cause or effect of my slouch is immaterial at this point. Also, both the cervical and lumbar (lower back) vertebrae are not straight when viewed from the front (in the front view, the spine should run down the centerline).

When I mockingly said my X-rays must be enough to make a scoliosis patient do a spit-take, I didn't plan on actually being one.

Which means I owe my backcracker an apology. I really do need to have some work done, probably at least a year's worth. I start on Monday, going in three times a week (good thing I got good insurance this time around). If it seems like a lot of doctor visits, keep in mind that the point is to move bones around. That doesn't happen quickly (my teeth, which are much smaller, were in braces for three years and a retainer for six).

Therefore the only real options are:

  1. Multiple visits per week.
  2. Medieval torture device.

I'm down with option one.

I'll try to get them to show me my X-rays again on Monday so I can get some pictures of them to post here.

[Permalink 2005-06-09] That's It; I'm a Dead Man

June 09, 2005:

On the way home from work Wednesday evening, I checked out the time/temperature sign on the bank across the street. We're still in early June, and the temperature has already hit 100°. And it gets even hotter between now and August. I'm screwed.

[Permalink 2005-06-07] Color Me Shocked

June 07, 2005:

At the Herdon Festival last weekend, I stopped in to the chiropractor's tent just for grins. They did their little stress-measurement thing and -- lo and behold -- my spine is stressed. I figure it's worth a look, so I donate 10 bucks to their pet charity and get a coupon for my free X-ray. (A $350 X-ray. They sure as hell ain't going broke.)

Well, I went in Monday and they took upper- and lower-back X-rays from the front and the side. The guy said there was some tension in various places in my back (unsurprising, given that I work on computers all day and don't exercise) and that he'd call me if he saw anything horribly wrong with my X-rays. As soon as those words left his mouth, I thought to myself, "I'm getting a call tonight."

He waited until 8:37. To hear him tell it my X-ray would make a scoliosis patient do a spit-take. I'm going in Thursday to take a look at the films. Because if I don't go in immediately I'll have a heart attack or my spleen will fall out or I'll wind up in a wheelchair or something.

And here I thought I'd missed out on the snake-oil days of medicine.

[Permalink 2005-06-06] Just a Suggestion

June 06, 2005:

If you and your white-trash friends are going to wake me up at 3:30 in the morning drunkenly screaming the same things at each other ("Are you talkin' shit to me?!" "I ain't talkin' shit to you -- you broke my fuckin' necklace!") (and yes, those were two guys) interspersed with color commentary from your other friend ("I'm tired of listening to your shit!") and threats of violence, at least have the common courtesy to actually get into a fight so I have some entertainment to make up for the fact that you're interrupting my rest.

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